On a different day we visited old Lahaina and toured with the Pacific Whale Foundation. We watched, up close and completely fascinated, a pod of mothers and babies breach and blow, slapping their chins and flippers in what felt like a real show.
We spent one entire day, from sun up to sun down, with Valley Isle Excursions on the Road to Hana. The boys had really been looking forward to visiting the rainforest. We saw the seven pools at Ohe'o gulch, the remote back side of Haleakala, and the Pua'a Ka'a waterfall. We enjoyed a picnic lunch at a tropical flower farm, explored lava tube caves at Wai'anapanapa's black sand beach, and learned directly from homesteaders about the Kahikinui reforestation project.
We walked to Whaler's Village several times for meals, and enjoyed mai tais at Monekypod. Most days the boys made friends at the hotel pool before heading to the beach to build sand castles and snorkel with sea turtles.
Home again for a couple of weeks it appears the only thing that has not been cancelled here is laundry. Our luck in the timing of this trip, though, is not lost on us. We are so glad we could go, and so grateful to be safe at home now.
Our vacation began with friends who opened their home to our family and led us on all sorts of amazing adventures in Oahu. When you ask the boys about their favorite part of the trip they mention, above all, making new friends. And our favorite part was definitely watching our kids become friends with our friends' kids.
The boys were up early the first day, so at the faintest sign of light we ventured to Lanikai to see the pillboxes, and after managing that steep climb enjoyed a big breakfast at Over Easy.
Later we swam in the Smith's pool and explored their backyard, gawking at the geckos and chickens and even a wild boar. We wandered deeper into the jungle beyond, discovering banyon trees bigger than the boys' imaginations, and covering ourselves in mud.
The next day we visited Kailua beach and tried to kayak to the Mokes, but the waves were too big, so went to Wilson's for shaved ice with lilikoi and snow caps instead. We hope to see the queen's bath and the monk seals on a return trip someday.
On March 7th we headed to Shark's Cove, stopping along the way at places like Turtle Bay and the Dole Plantation, Seven Brother's Burgers and the Polynesian Cultural Center for a short ukulele lesson. The boys wore snorkel masks for hours, finding urchins and anemone and eels and the state fish, humuhumunukunukuapua'a. At one point they were all jumping from a giant rock, rather than navigating back down the sharp lava surface. I may have prayed to king Kamehameha.
Later that evening we celebrated with ice cream cake and the sweetest double ukulele birthday song serenade.
There were ample opportunities for roadside banana bread and raw sugar cane and li hing mui dusted mango slices. We also enjoyed Ted's famous chocolate pie and poke bowls, and eventually sweet talked Nora into sharing her secret smoothie recipe.
One morning we managed the Lighthouse hike with the promise of another big breakfast at Over Easy, and then headed to Hanauma Bay - an old volcanic crater now nature preserve, a "living museum" perfect for more snorkeling. We stopped to see the Halona blowhole that afternoon, and headed "home" for more poolside drinks and play.
We spent our last full day at Pearl Harbor. Tolliver was specifically interested in the aviation museum on Ford Island, and all three boys showed remarkable reverence at the USS Arizona memorial.
We visited the Ko'Olina lagoons later that day where the boys played in the sand and chased crabs around the rocks.
We are all looking forward to a time when the Smith family can stay with us in Columbus!